Negative emotion interference during a synonym matching task in pediatric bipolar disorder with and without attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2013 May;19(5):601-12. doi: 10.1017/S135561771300012X. Epub 2013 Feb 11.


This study examined whether processing of emotional words impairs cognitive performance in acutely ill patients with pediatric bipolar disorder (PBD), with or without comorbid attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), relative to healthy controls (HC). Forty youths with PBD without ADHD, 20 youths with PBD and ADHD, and 29 HC (mean age = 12.97 ± 3.13) performed a Synonym Matching task, where they decided which of two probe words was the synonym of a target word. The three words presented on each trial all had the same emotional valence, which could be negative, positive, or neutral. Relative to HC both PBD groups exhibited worse accuracy for emotional words relative to neutral ones. This effect was greater with negative words and observed regardless of whether PBD patients had comorbid ADHD. In the PBD group without ADHD, manic symptoms correlated negatively with accuracy for negative words, and positively with reaction time (RT) for all word types. Our findings suggest a greater disruptive effect of emotional valence in both PBD groups relative to HC, reflecting the adverse effect of altered emotion processing on cognitive function in PBD. Future studies including an ADHD group will help clarify how ADHD symptoms may affect emotional interference independently of PBD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / complications*
  • Bipolar Disorder / complications*
  • Child
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Pediatrics
  • Reaction Time
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Vocabulary
  • Young Adult